Mendependence Day

Since Fort Bragg declared their independence from Independence Day by recognizing the 4th of July on the 2nd instead, that left the actual holiday as just another not-so-manic Monday.   The town of Fort Bragg was eerily quiet.   So I decided to take a drive and check out nearby Mendocino.  (Now, it’s going to take me yet another week to get that “Mendocino, Teeny-bopper” Sir Douglas Quintet song out of my head!)

Several of the locals told me, “Do not miss the Fourth of July parade in Mendocino!”  But I have never been much for small town parades….too much like the life I left behind in rural Texas.     Cheap Made-in-China flags and bunting lining the streets.  Out of tune horns playing in the discombobulated marching band.  Or maybe it’s bad memories left from my High School days when I rode in the town parade on the hood of a sedan as Vice President of the Spanish Club.  I wore a big billowy skirt, and every time the A-hole driving the car would gun it, I would have to grab hold, letting go of my skirt which would then fly up in the wind.  Adolescence is agonizing.

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So I decide to skip the parade, much to my disappointment later when I learn the Mendocino parade is a bit “unconventional” as parades go.  I arrive in town late in the afternoon to find the “parade” still going on.   People are in costume.  There are signs around town advertising “Mendependence Day.”  Sheriff cars are at the four corners.  And one could start to imagine feeling high just from deep breathing.   (Sorry, no photos…I am trying to blend here.)

Mendocino is famous for its water towers, built at the end of the 19th century. Since the town has no fresh water source, many are still in use today.

Mendocino is famous for its water towers, built at the end of the 19th century. Since the town has no fresh water source, a few are still in use today.

I can’t see any parking signs in the historic downtown area, so I ask someone who looks like a local, “Do you think it’s okay to park here?”   The man responds, “I think you can park just about anywhere you want in this town.”  My kinda town.  😉

In between Fort Bragg and Mendocino is also the charming Point Cabrillo Light Station, built in 1906 and recently restored.

In between Fort Bragg and Mendocino is also the charming Point Cabrillo Light Station, illuminated in 1909 and recently restored.

I can't decide which version of the photo I like best, so I am posting them both. the first reminds me of summer, the second of fall.

I can’t decide which version of the photo I like best, so I am posting them both. The first reminds me of summer, the second of fall.

The lens room contains a rare English-made third order Fresnel lens. (Most were made in France.) The lens room is only open for tours eight days a year. I was booked to visit on 11th June, the anniversary, but had to cancel due to repair delay.

The lens room contains a rare English-made third order Fresnel lens. (Most were made in France.) The lens room is only open for tours eight days out of the year. I was booked to visit on 11th June, the anniversary, but had to cancel due to repair delays.

Giving the Light Station some competition for beauty are the recently restored Keeper's Quarters.

Giving the Light Station some competition for architectural appeal are the recently restored Keeper’s Quarters.

Head Lightkeeper's House, now available as a vacation rental.

Head Lightkeeper’s House, now available as a vacation rental.

First Lightkeeper's House, now a museum.

First Lightkeeper’s House, now a museum.

In addition to being turn-of-the-century picturesque, Mendocino is one of those cute little artist towns with great streets for walking. There are galleries, a huge health food market, cute coffee shops, and even a tent for local theatre performances, all within a few blocks. And it doesn’t hurt that it is flanked by beautiful bluffs of the Mendocino Headlands State Park. It’s a town worthy of its “Mendependence,” and certainly worthy of a longer visit than one afternoon.

Next time I will think twice before I ignore the advice of the locals…lest the parade pass me by!

In between Fort Bragg and Mendocino is the beautiful Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

In between Fort Bragg and Mendocino is the beautiful Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

Forty-seven acres of oceanfront gardens.

Forty-seven acres of oceanfront gardens.

Soothing balm for the soul.

Soothing balm for the soul.

Not only do the flower gardens offer a zen-like experience, but the cliff-side trails are equally compelling.

Not only do the flower gardens offer a zen-like experience, but the cliff-side trails are equally compelling.

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Path down to the Cliff House.

Path down to the Cliff House.

Inside the Botanical Garden's Cliff House where one can watch migrating whales or crashing waves in warmth!

Inside the Botanical Garden’s Cliff House where one can watch migrating whales or crashing waves in warmth!

Although it's disappointing not to be here when the vast collection of rhododendrons are in bloom, the dahlias are stunning!

Although it’s disappointing not to be here when the vast collection of rhododendrons are in bloom, the dahlias are delightful!

How does Nature know exactly how to symmetrically paint the tips of the blossoms white?

I adore how the Intelligence of Nature knows exactly how to symmetrically paint each tip of the blossoms white.

Blossoms are bigger than my hand!

Blossoms are bigger than my hand!

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11 thoughts on “Mendependence Day

  1. Love Mendocino. Great beer and food there as well, and the gardens! Would have loved to see that parade. I can’t remember where we camped…maybe PoMo? But we really wished for time in Mendo.

  2. Gah! Memories abound!!! That part of California is such a magnet, even for locals. We weren’t quite “local”, but did trot over there from the Bay Area on occasion in the 80’s in our Westfalia. We seemed to be magnetized to Manchester Beach. There was a KOA juxtaposed to a state park there, and we have stayed at each. I can only imagine what the per night rate is now. It was what we considered reasonable at the time. But we were both gainfully employed in Silicon Valley at the time; value perceptions can sometimes change over time.

    In reading your “soothing balm for the soul” caption, I had to laugh out loud because I was just thinking along those very lines as I immersed myself in your excellent photos of the area. The only things missing are the sounds and the smells. ;->

  3. Isn’t it amazing how the memories of our past, especially childhood which I count as any age under 21, color our present. I’m sorry you missed the parade too. Love the light house, both pictures. Love the flowers and the shore line. What a beautiful area you are in. Every time I read one of your posts I sigh for longing to get out there.

  4. We sat through a 4th of July parade in Livingston, MT, which was a bit of a yawner. I have to agree with you Suzanne, I have sat through and participated in many a parade in my youth so I’m just as likely to pass them by these days. Mendocino does look like a city that we should consider visiting. The botanical gardens and the cliffs look inviting, as well as quaint little Point Cabrillo lighthouse.

  5. Absolutely love those flowers, and small town parades. However I never rode the hood of a car wearing a large billowing skirt.

  6. Guess I didn’t spend enough time when through Mendocino many decades ago. The lighthouse alone looks like a reason to visit plus those gardens are divine.

  7. Gorgeous lighthouse, this is where I would have no qualms to move the lighted lens from the second photo, into the first one. You need the flowers in the foreground of the first photo to complete it. Lovely flowers from the botanical garden, some are quite unusual

  8. Hahaha…”I rode in the town parade on the hood of a sedan as Vice President of the Spanish Club….”–a great first line first chapter sentence. How cool is it that the rest of the novel is filled to the brim with glorious photos to boot? What a luscious coffee table autobiography you generously share with your readers! This blog is an absolute treasure and I adore it! :-)

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